Salsa's New Stormchaser and Why to Ride a Single Speed
A Short Love Song
Torin Priem - May 14, 2021
I've ridden single speeds for a long time, and I have loved single speeds for a long time. Single speed bikes are a bicycle component configuration that does not have any gears to change. There is a single cog with chain, chain ring, cranks, and human muscle to propel bike and rider forward. A simplified technology that sets the pace for a day of riding, the hills are harder but more rewarding. When riding a single speed I get to take a reprieve from pedaling on the descents, feel the bike pick up speed and fly! My Surly Karate Monkey is set up as single speed right now and is easily one of my favorite bikes ever. It rarely needs any maintenance: pump up tires, check the chain tension and out the door for hours of adventure. Standing up to attack hills makes it a full body experience, one gear, one with the bike. My cadence matches as speed increases. Pedal-pedal-pedal-coast, repeat, a single speed mantra.
A single speed bike really brings joy in the worst of conditions. On a recent bike packing trip North of Moab the truth became more apparent than a poorly timed dad-joke. A morning of heavy rain illustrated why the road we had made camp on was marked as "Impassible when wet". Mud clogged our tires so badly we had to drag our bikes up the final hill to a more passable gravel road. While waiting for some soggy stragglers we used tumble weed stalks to remove what gunk we could for rotational clearance. My fellow riders looked at their cassettes and derailleurs in dismay and dread, every piece was clogged full of drying red concrete, the few gears they had forced use from shone bright with shards from their distressed chains. We took a 15 mile shortcut back up to our camp, my hands were numb from the cold as I climbed but I was glad I could climb at all, glad I could power through with no issues; I didn't have to shift, just pedal and keep pushing to stay warm.
These days getting a single speed bike generally requires dedication. You need a compatible bike, a conversion kit, all the necessary parts and the ability to do the conversion yourself or with a shop. The other option is to search in the spinning black hole of Craigslist. New to the scene however, is the Salsa Stormchaser. The frame is a stunning modern-geo gravel bike with an incredible paint job and solid, reliable componentry. Yes, it is a single speed, but all componentry including the single gear are still important. We expect nothing less from Salsa, a company not afraid to do their own thing to the tune of fun and adventure. Salsa, who's actual company motto is, "adventure by bike", takes a sometimes sassy and always unique approach to bike building while turning out fantastic bikes that are on the forefront of the industry.
When Torin isn't ordering parts for the shop or pedaling up Boulder's hills, he's bumming rides off friends to get to the mountains or the desert to ride ALL the trails.